Washington (AFP) Aug 26, 2011 spacewar.com
The United States and Israel are monitoring Syria's suspected arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, fearing that terror groups could take advantage of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad to obtain chemical agents and long-range missiles, The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.
Citing unnamed officials from both countries, the newspaper said US intelligence services believe Syria's nonconventional weapons programs include significant stockpiles of mustard gas, VX and Sarin gas and the missile and artillery systems to deliver them.
United Nations investigators also recently concluded that Damascus had been secretly constructing a nuclear reactor with North Korean help before Israeli jets destroyed the site in late 2007, the report said.
US and UN nonproliferation officials continue to worry that Pyongyang may have provided Syria with additional nuclear-related equipment, The Journal noted.
"We are very concerned about the status of Syria's WMD, including chemical weapons," the paper quoted Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, as saying. "Together with the US administration, we are watching this situation very carefully."
US and Israeli officials won't disclose exactly how they are keeping watch on the Syrian weaponry, the report said.
But in the past, the United States and Israel have tracked activities at Syrian military installations using satellites and human spies, the paper pointed out.
Current and former US officials said Syria has at least five sites where it produces chemical-weapons agents, including mustard gas, Sarin and VX, The Journal noted.
But the officials said these facilities are difficult to track as they are spread across Syria and centered in such cities as Damascus, Hama, Latakia and Aleppo, the report said.
Some production facilities are at military facilities that also store Syria's Scud missiles, The Journal noted.